The Last Guardian took a long time to make its way to final release. After first being announced in 2009, the game saw multiple delays and a shift to the PS4, away from the PS3. But, after years of waiting, it has finally arrived. Our review is right here, explaining how amazing the game is. Along with this, Sony has provided us with an interview with The Last Guardian creator Fumito Ueda. We did not get to speak with him directly, but they provided some answers to typical questions about the game.
The one thing I want players to feel…is that Trico is a real, living being
In the interview Ueda goes into great detail on a lot of aspects of the game. It starts with the interviewer asking how Ueda feels now that the game is finally finished. “The Last Guardian is finally complete,” he says, almost exasperatedly. “But I still can’t step back and enjoy it just yet. It doesn’t seem real to me. To me it still doesn’t feel like it’s over. This was probably true for Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, too. I think it’ll be some time after release that I’ll realize that we’re finally done.”
When asked what kind of game The Last Guardian is, Ueda begins by describing the simple nature of the experience before shifting to what the original inspiration was. “There are mouse-based games where characters follow the clicks performed by the player. My initial thought was to create a game where the mouse cursor is a boy in 3D space…Instead of thinking of the boy as the main character and Trico just as a gameplay tool, I think of the game as how to drive forward together with Trico.”
Something that has always been apparent in the design of Ueda-created games is that the developer prefers simplistic gameplay with a deep, rich story experience. When asked about this Ueda said “I am less concerned with thrilling or complicated gameplay. I’m more interested in immersing players in this tale and establishing their emotional connection to the game.”
The Last Guardian accomplishes this goal by keeping the action focused around Trico and the boy. Combat is minimized and even automatic, and exploration is totally focused on these two characters. The boy though lacks a lot of personality, including a name, because Ueda wants him to serve as a surrogate for the player.
Trico’s design comes up in a few instances, with Ueda explaining that he “wanted to include the essence of a lot of different animals. For example, cats, dogs, and birds- animals people come in contact with regularly. Like pets or animals you see in a zoo.” On why Trico is covered in feathers instead of fur, that actually came down to technical limitations. “I also realized that for Trico to be realistically depicted using the current graphical limitations we shouldn’t make it too cute, nor should we give it a mouth with fangs like a dog or cat. Instead, we could maybe pull off something with a beak. That’s also why we went with feathers instead of fur. Feathers are better suited to be rendered on the hardware and made Trico seem more real.”
Going further into Trico, Ueda explains that “Trico’s AI was one of the biggest challenges for us. For example, when the boy calls Trico, we could have made Trico come immediately, like clockwork. But if we did that, Trico would not seem like an independent creature. It wouldn’t seem like it was alive and making its own decisions…But at the same time, if it takes too long for Trico to come, that could stress the player.”
Speaking more about the constraints that are involved in game design, Ueda responded “You have to seek out what’s optimal within those constraints. That’s really important in game development these days. There are probably more constraints on game creation than there are on other media. To make the best game within those constraints, we have to know those constraints, I think. Even if what we want to create is something really great, it’s meaningless if we can’t actually realize it. At the same time, if what we wanted to create was something trivial to develop, then there’s no need to put all the effort into releasing it on platforms such as PlayStation. It’s important to find the proper balance.”
Finally, Ueda was asked what scene he really wants players to experience, and what he wants them to take away from the game at the end of the whole thing. The ending was marked as the most important scene, with Ueda saying “Everything you experience throughout the whole game, everything we put into it, it all reaches its climax at the ending. I really want players to experience it.”
“The one thing I want players to feel as they play through and complete the game,” says Ueda, “is that Trico is a real, living being. We made the game so players would come out of it feeling that Trico is truly real. The stages, the characters, the motions…They all come back to that. I hope players feel that when they play.”
The Last Guardian hits December 6th for PS4.